I had begun writing this article prior to last Sunday’s announcement about a change in my appointment. The article is therefore all the more fitting and, for me anyway, apropos. I am grateful for you and our shared ministry. God called me to be a pastor and I have lived a wonderful life in the ministry. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. I am grateful that those lines have fallen in such a way that our lives and ministries have intersected. I will always be the better for our shared ministry these past five years. Thank you for your support and grace in my efforts to serve with you. In the Apostle Paul’s words,” I am grateful for our partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:5)
I especially want to thank you, along with the people of each local church, the lay leaders, the lay teams I have been blessed to serve with, and Claire Cox-Woodlief and Nancy Martinez, along with the District Office Staff of Lou B. Jennings, Amy Outlaw, and Trudy Artis, for your support and constant work to help me!
God bless you all.
I am quirky about anything permanent, at least according to a recent assessment I took as a part of a training class I’m in. I wasn’t surprised. I know I like the security of having certain fixed things in my life: I want Susan and my family there; I want church there; I want people who love me there; I want . . .well a lot of certainties. But, I also test high on the “spontaneous” scale which was defined as “likes change, is innovative, adapts to differences quickly.” The test interpreter was kind: “You’re different,” was her polite way of saying the obvious about the strange.
I suspect I am like most people: people want permanence and people like (some) freshness.
Life is such a strong mix of the permanent and the fleeting. God is. That’s permanent. But humans are passing. That’s permanent. Life’s grief is our sense of loss at all the things that are constantly changing, things beyond our control.
This Lent we confront all the things that are so impermanent in this passing world: illness seems permanent, health fleeting; we pass on, others come in our stead. We are in the gift of one appointment and another is given.
Anxiety comes from impermanence to add to grief’s misery. Anxiety then leads us to try to control what we cannot and the whirlwind that comes for overstepping our creaturely bounds can be a trouble unlike any other.
But – there is Jesus on the Cross. The One who appears so impermanent points to what is forever. Jesus on the Cross points to hope. And in that hope we are not disappointed.
In the middle of this life’s uncertainties, wherever you find them in the church, in government, in your own life, remember that the permanent peace is Jesus on the Cross who showed that nothing takes us away from God, not even what we fear.
All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
But the word of our God will stand forever.
– Isaiah 40:6b-8
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